Blu-ray Review: Friends Complete Series

Friends: The Complete Series Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Warner | CREATORS: David Crane, Marta Kauffman | CAST: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer
BLU-RAY RELEASE DATE: 11/13/2012 | PRICE: Blu-ray $279.98
BONUSES: documentaries, new episode cuts, scripts, extended episodes, music video, featurettes
SPECS: TV-14 | Comedy | 16×9 widescreen | 5.1 Dolby Digital audio | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): TV Show | Audio | Video | Overall

FriendsNot many television series last for 10 years or more stay brilliant throughout. After so many great seasons, The Office is limping now. Friends, however, is one of the few, and with its fantastic comedic writing and likeable cast, the sitcom continues to entertain years after it ended its original on-air run.

One of the first sitcoms not technically about a family, Friends‘ core group of six, well, friends became a family, and fans adopted them quickly. Jennifer Aniston’s (Horrible Bosses) Rachel, David Schwimmer’s (Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted) Ross, Courteney Cox’s (TV’s Cougar Town: Season 1) Monica, Matthew Perry’s (TV’s Go On) Chandler, Lisa Kudrow’s (Easy A) Phoebe and Matt LaBlanc’s (TV’s Episodes) Joey became our family.

All 236 episodes of the show have been available on DVD for years, including in a Complete Series set since 2006. This Blu-ray represents the first time the whole series is available on disc in high-definition. Unfortunately, the episodes don’t look as good on Blu-ray as they do on over-the-air HDTV. The color is nicely saturated, but the Blu-ray shows a lot grain, and the image is softer.

Luckily, Warner doesn’t expect you to pay $250 (less than $200 after discount at most retailers) just for high-def. As well as all the special features from the DVD, the studio included a bonus disc with new extras.

The best is the original script, complete with margin notes, for the producer’s cut of “The One Where Rachel Tells Ross” and the original cut of the episode. The 2001 show featured a thread in which Chandler made a joke about taking a bomb on a plane, but after the episode was shot, 9/11 happened and the producers didn’t feel the storyline was appropriate. On the bonus disc, however, the episode can be seen how the producers originally planned it.

There are also three new “True Friends” documentaries with creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, plus others, reminiscing about the show, from its inspiration, casting and ultimate success. They explain that Cox was originally offered the role of Rachel but asked to play Monica, that Ross saying Rachel’s name when he was marrying Emily came about because Schwimmer flubbed a line in rehearsal, and that the producers were terrified that Monica and Chandler’s relationship would be the show’s “jump the shark” moment.

The interviews are interspersed with scenes from the show, but the stars aren’t around. Some regular actors make appearances, including James Michael Taylor (Jason’s Big Problem), who played Gunther; Maggie Wheeler (TV’s Everybody Loves Raymond), who played Janice; and Bonnie Somerville (Fire With Fire), who played Mona.

The Friends stars are seen in 2004 and 2005 episodes of The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno celebrating the end of the series. And the disc has a fun “The One With the Never-Before-Seen-Gags” montage. The actors cursed a lot when they messed up.

The box itself has a nice lenticular cover with two images of the stars and contains a glossy, full-color episode guide.

 

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.